Project X Does A 180

In November 2021, Hot Rod magazine presented their latest update to the famous “Project X” 1957 Chevrolet. Yes, that Project X. The one that had seen all kinds of alterations since it was purchased for $250 by Popular Hot Rodding staff. The one Tony Danza drove in to impress Michelle Pfeiffer in Hollywood Knights.

How dare they? But they did.

The hot-rodding world was stunned. Project X had its V8 replaced by an electric motor of all things. Gone was the fuel tank in favor of a battery bank. If you have a strong stomach, you can see the changes as documented in both the magazine and in a series of YouTube videos.

Reaction was immediate and overwhelmingly negative. 

“How could you do that!?”

“No V8?”

“How much range?”

“What’s it weigh?  How fast could it possibly be?”

In their defense, gasoline was over $7.00 per gallon in California and manufacturers were tripping over each other to reveal their new world-conquering electric vehicles (EVs). It made sense to Hot Rod to show those of us automobile hobbyists a possible way through what looks like a bleak future even today.

Not so fast, though.

Recently, it was revealed that Project X had its powertrain slightly upgraded from the just over a 300 horsepower electric motor to a more respectable 1,000 horsepower 682 cubic inch big block V8. They tried to put a smile on the whole process by saying they performed the EV conversion so you would not have to yourself. Considering the amount of fabricating and alteration to which Project X was subjected in the EV conversion, this was no easy task. Motortrend tells the story of how Project X was brought back to respectability here: ZZ632 Big-Block Chevy Engine Swap on a 1957 Chevy, Project X (

Installing an engine that large into Project X took more surgery and compromise. For instance, Project X no longer has power brakes. Think about that. A 1,000 horsepower 1957 Chevy with manual brakes. I hope they installed a wide brake pedal that can be two-footed. Another change was the removal of the C6 Corvette front suspension for a smaller K-member to make room for all that engine.

Returning Project X back to respectability was the right thing to do at this time. One day, electric motors may be more practical. Batteries may reach parity or even surpass petroleum powered internal combustion engines.  Or, perhaps, hydrogen fuel cell technology will be a viable alternative. Who knows? Maybe Doc Brown was onto something with “Mr. Fusion” feeding power to the flux capacitor. Maybe we will have cars powered by 1.21 gigawatts in the near future.

For now, Popular Hotrodding heard the cries for the roar of a V8 and gave the audience what they wanted once more.

Ron Krauch

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